Chile Expedition 2016 - Dr. Cabrol visits Expedition Site 2 in the Andes

NAI Expedition Album #2

EXPEDITION ALBUM #2 - Good Morning, Earthlings! As I promised, here are some incredible pictures of our exploration at Site #2 in the Andes. We were in the area of the Lastarria volcano and came back yesterday. Today, we are heading for the San Pedro area for more scientific adventures. We have been incredibly successful so far, including new findings that we will publish in the coming months. But for now, here is for you, an album of what is, in my heart, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Here we go...

1. Magical night of the Andes, with Venus setting on the horizon. Saturn is a little up to the right...Nights were brutally cold and the wind during the day could be harsh but...what a view!

2. The landscape around us, as one of our pickups follows a road that ultimately reaches the Lastarria volcano that makes the frontier between Chile and Argentina. Lastarria has some activity, with well-known fumaroles sending white vapor up in the air, and covering the slope with sulfur deposits. Here, right ahead, clouds top the Llullaillaco volcano.


3. Me showing Cindy, Helen, and Francisca a biogeological treasure...Stromatolites.

4. This is a close-up of a tabular deposit of these ancient little creatures that built mounds around the lake (now dry for this part) a long time ago.

5. Life was there in the past, and, although you cannot see it, it is still here today, sheltered from the harsh environment in the subsurface. You can walk for miles and not see a trace. Break the surface and they are everywhere...The pink pigments are microbial organisms that provide protection to the colony from the UV radiation. Underneath, other organisms photosynthesize and provide nutrients to the first colony. This is a symbiosis, one for survival away from those who do not look farther than the surface. Did this also happened on Mars?

6. David Wettergreen is acquiring data in the visible with an imager relevant to the next rover (Mars 2020), which will be seeking for ancient signatures of life on Mars.

7. Pablo Sobron is looking from signatures of organics and for composition with the Raman spectrometer. He also has a XRD spectrometer with him. Not shown here, Jeff Moersch and his student, Michael Phillips, are capturing VIS/NIR imagery and aerial imagery with drones.

8. Laguna Aguas Calientes. Our camp was on its shore...Flamingoes, Andean geese, ducks, foxes, vicunas (smaller version of llamas), swallows, and many other animals live in this magnificent environment.

9. Nancy Hinman inspects gypsum mounds.

Finally, 10, Bernardita and Manola, our cooks, who manage to bake us cookies and cook incredible cuisine at any altitude and under whatever temperatures.

More to come soon…Credit photos: Victor Robles Bravo. Campoalto Operaciones/SETI Institute.

Read Nathalie's previous post here.